May 23, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Iran's IRGC Has Covert Presence in Red Sea - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) Navy maintains a covert presence in the Red Sea through an array of ships, including some that gather intelligence and act as forward bases, Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told JNS.
    After an alleged Israeli attack on the Saviz - described by international media as an IRGC ship acting as a forward and expeditionary base - the Iranians replaced it with the Shahid Roudaki, which is operated by the IRGC off the Eritrean coast.
    "They are building sea-based abilities to launch UAVs, and this is something that can reach our area, too," cautioned Segall.
    The use of small submarines for laying mines is another Iranian aspect of this doctrine.

Gaza Terror Groups Prepare for Next War with Israel - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    One year after the May 2021 war in Gaza, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are hard at work preparing for the next conflict with Israel.
    They are developing and perfecting new attack methods, including digging more tunnels, utilizing drone technology, and expanding their naval capabilities.
    Newly dug tunnels recently uncovered by the IDF reach the Israeli border but don't cross Israel's new subterranean barrier. Adjusting its tactics, Hamas hopes to emerge out of the tunnels on the Gaza side and then break through the partition fence.
    Hamas has also added 1,000 rockets to its arsenal since last year and is focusing on their quality, improving their range and accuracy.

For the First Time in Half-a-Century, Chad Welcomes Israeli Envoy - Jennifer Bell (Al Arabiya)
    Israeli diplomat Ben Bourgel presented his credentials to Chad President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno on Tuesday for the first time in half-a-century after the two countries reestablished relations in 2019.

AIPAC's Changing Strategy - Amb. Ron Dermer and Dr. Michael Makovsky (JINSA)
    A podcast discussion of how AIPAC has created what are essentially two PACs, and now gives money directly to candidates.

Shock in Fatah over Birzeit University Student Election Loss - Mohammed Najib (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    The Fatah-backed bloc in the Birzeit University student council elections, aligned with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, suffered a crushing defeat last week.
    It received the lowest number of votes and seats since the start of university elections in 1996, prompting the head of the Fatah movement in Ramallah and Al-Bireh, Muwafaq Suhwail, to resign.
    The Fatah loss will discourage the PA from organizing any legislative or presidential elections from now on. The last legislative elections were held in 2005.
    Ahmed Ghuneim, a prominent Fatah leader in eastern Jerusalem, said: "Fatah cannot continue in this way. It is time for a decisive and courageous decision to be taken to stop this collapse."
    "The Palestinian Authority...leadership knows and realizes that it is a problem, but they insist that they remain in power and lead us from defeat to defeat."
    Nasser Al-Kidwa, the former Palestinian foreign minister dismissed from Fatah by Abbas after criticizing the PA leader's policies, said from his home in France: "Fatah... deserves punishment because it has committed enough mistakes to turn Palestinian public opinion against it."

Israel Has Share of Booming Global Arms Industry - Avi Bar-Eli (Ha'aretz)
    Israel Aerospace Industries is continuing to enjoy the current boom in the global arms industry following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and is seeking to increase its presence in the countries neighboring Russia, said Amir Peretz, the chairman of IAI and former defense minister.
    IAI amassed $14 billion worth of orders yet to be fulfilled in the last quarter - the equivalent to three years of business.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Revolutionary Guard Colonel Killed in Tehran
    Col. Hassan Sayad Khodayari, a senior member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, was killed outside his home in Tehran on Sunday by unidentified gunmen on a motorbike, state TV reported. (AP)
        See also Slain Iranian Officer Planned Attacks Against Israelis, Jews Worldwide
    Iranian Revolutionary Guards Col. Hassan Sayad Khodayari had planned kidnappings and other attempts to attack Israeli and Jewish targets worldwide, according to Hebrew media. Channel 13 reported that one of the operatives under Khodayari's direction was Mansour Rasouli, who admitted to Mossad agents in April that he was sent to target an Israeli diplomat in Turkey, an American general stationed in Germany, and a journalist in France.
        Channel 12 reported that Khodayari was also behind an attempt to lure Israeli academics, businesspeople, and former defense officials abroad and possibly kidnap them. It also said he was behind a plot to kill five Israelis in Cyprus. An Iranian security source was quoted as saying Khodayari also played an "important" role in Iran's military industry, "especially when it came to drones."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Assassination of IRGC Officer Reveals Iran's Hollow System - Seth J. Frantzman
    Iran continues to try to strike at Israel, but Iran cannot even defend key members of the IRGC in its own capital. All Iran can do is posture, while it appears to be more vulnerable than in the past. While the regime's proxies have grown in power in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, the regime itself appears hollow. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Video: Annual "Celebrate Israel Parade" Returns to Manhattan - Rebecca Greenberg
    Over 40,000 people marched in Manhattan in Sunday's "Celebrate Israel Parade" after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York said. Live music, large floats and thousands of marchers filled Fifth Avenue for the 58th annual parade. (NY1.com)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Iran Plotted to Target Former Israeli Defense Minister - Lilach Shoval
    The Israel Security Agency has uncovered an Iranian intelligence plot to lure former Israeli security officials and academics abroad, according to an announcement on Thursday. Iranians used fictitious email accounts to contact Israeli officials while impersonating real-life academics, journalists, businessmen, and philanthropists. The Iranians would then invite them to conferences abroad, possibly to abduct or hurt them.
        "It is a well-known method of operation of the Iranian intelligence and security bodies, headed by the Intelligence Organization of the Revolutionary Guards, Quds Force, and the Ministry of Intelligence," the ISA said.
        One of the Israeli officials targeted was former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who immediately understood that he was being scammed and alerted the ISA. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Court Rules that Jewish Prayer on Temple Mount Is Not a Disturbance of the Peace at a Criminal Level - Tovah Lazaroff
    A Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Sunday rejected a criminal case against three Jewish minors arrested for praying on the Temple Mount. The court has in the past recognized the rights of Jews to quietly pray on the Temple Mount. Judge Zion Sahrai was careful to clarify that he was speaking only with respect to the facts of this case, which involved minors who had bowed on the ground and recited the "Shema Yisrael" Jewish prayer while visiting the site. Sahrai wrote that he did not believe their utterance of "Shema Yisrael" constituted a disturbance of the peace at a criminal level.
        The Israeli Government responded, "There is no change, nor is any change planned, on the status quo of the Temple Mount. The Magistrate Court's decision is focused exclusively on the matter of conduct of the minors brought before it, and does not include a broader determination regarding the freedom of worship on the Temple Mount."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Jerusalem Judge: Decision Does Not "Determine Anything Regarding Freedom of Worship at the Temple Mount" - Tobias Siegal
    In the case involving Jewish minors arrested for praying on the Temple Mount, Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Zion Sahrai emphasized: "This [decision] does not intervene with the police's job in enforcing public order at the Temple Mount, nor does it determine anything regarding freedom of worship at the Temple Mount. These matters are not discussed in the decision at all."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Negotiating Gas Exports to Europe - Lahav Harkov
    Israel and the EU have been in negotiations for the past month to export gas to Europe via Egypt, Energy Ministry Director-General Lior Schillat said on Sunday. The European Commission "officially asked for Israel's help to get through the energy crisis," Schillat said. Energy Minister Karin Elharrar said last month that Israel "will take full advantage" of the opportunity in the energy market resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
        Israel has been preparing to double its export capacity in the coming years. Gas exploration and production company Energean has said it will bring the Karish natural gas field online as early as July. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel: Calls for U.S. Investigation into Reporter's Death Ignore the PA's Refusal to Cooperate
    Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog on Friday criticized a demand by 57 House Democrats for a U.S. investigation into the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was fatally shot while reporting on a gunfight between IDF troops and Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank city of Jenin earlier this month. Herzog said the Congressional letter "does not offer a fair representation of the case, ignores important context of the events leading to Ms. Abu Akleh's tragic death and reaches the wrong conclusion."
        "On May 11, 2022, Israeli security forces operated in Jenin to thwart yet another impending terror attack and were confronted by heavily armed Palestinian militants, most of them affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad - a U.S.-designated terror organization," he said. "Shireen Abu Akleh died in the exchange of fire in this charged environment."
        "The letter ignores the fact that Israel has, from the outset, called for an impartial joint Israeli-Palestinian investigation with the U.S. in an observer role. Our call was flatly rejected by the PA, which is cynically using Ms. Abu Akleh's death to instigate an anti-Israel propaganda campaign."
        Herzog noted the PA's refusal to give Israel access to the bullet that killed Abu Akleh, making impossible an Israeli ballistic assessment that could determine if it was fired by an IDF weapon.
        He also said that those claiming that there were no clashes or shooting in the area of the incident were ignoring evidence, including statements from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and video footage. (Algemeiner)
        See also Response to Congressional Letter Calling for U.S. Investigation into the Death of Shireen Abu Akleh - Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog (Embassy of Israel)
  • Demonstrations Erupt across Iran amid a Sharp Rise in Food Prices - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall and Iran Desk
    On May 3, 2022, the Iranian government began implementing a new policy to overcome the economic crisis by abolishing government subsidies on essential items such as bread, medicines, and many other products. Within a few days, prices rose ten-fold. The rise in prices sparked panic buying and bread products became scarce, leading to intensified protests and clashes with security forces in several Iranian provinces.
        Iran will need to import at least 20 million tons of grain this year. The canceling of subsidies could make bread unattainable for millions of Afghan refugees now living in Iran; the new policy stipulates that bread is only to be sold to citizens with an Iranian identity card.
        For now, it appears that the regime is managing to contain the protests and avoid many casualties. But the primary factors behind them will continue to exist and constitute an ongoing challenge for the Islamic regime. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Is Russia's Withdrawal from Syria an Opportunity for Israel? - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Prof. Jacob Nagel and Jonathan Schanzer
    A recent IDF drill includes simulated airstrikes on Iran and a simulated multi-front war against Iran-backed proxies in Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza. The message was unmistakable: The Israeli government is weighing its military options.
        The war in Ukraine has prompted Russia to redeploy some forces and hardware out of Syria, and the Iranians want to fill the void. Iran appears determined to establish offensive capabilities on Israel's doorstep and the Israelis are determined not to let that happen. The number of Israeli operations in Syria has reportedly increased and will likely only intensify.
        Jacob Nagel, a former Israeli national security adviser, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a visiting professor at the Technion Aerospace Faculty. Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice president for research at FDD and a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department. (Newsweek)
  • New Dialogue and Collaboration between EU and Israel - Yossi Shain
    European Parliament President Roberta Metsola is visiting Israel and will address the Knesset on Monday, symbolizing an encouraging and dramatic change in Europe's tone and approach in its relations with the Jewish state.
        Europeans have become much more suspicious of Iran. The danger of Iran's nuclear and hegemonic ambitions was amplified after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Russia's nuclear threats, which shook the Europeans at their core. Statements criticizing anti-Zionism as a disguise for anti-Semitism are also becoming more prevalent among Europe's most influential voices. The EU has withheld funds from UNRWA due to the incitement against Jews and Israelis in Palestinian textbooks.
        Moreover, a number of European nations have experienced acts of radical, Islamic terror and are wary of shifting demographics within their own societies that could be susceptible to further Islamic radicalization. At the same time, Israel's economic success and its pioneering prowess in the high-tech sector have increased its stature in Europe.
        The writer, a Yisrael Beytenu MK, is chair of the Knesset Delegation for Relations with the European Parliament. (Jerusalem Post)

  • IDF Brig.-Gen. Amir Sa'ar, head of the Military Intelligence Research Division, says, "Iran is weeks away from accumulating a sufficient quantity of uranium for a nuclear bomb....It's the most advanced position they've reached in terms of accumulating materials....They've achieved complete control of advanced centrifugal technology."
  • However, Sa'ar says, the Iranians need another two years before they will be able to produce a bomb, since they still haven't mastered metallurgy or the production of the explosive device.
  • "Three things have always worked with the Iranians: military pressure, internal distress and political pressure. When these were used, they prompted the Iranians to make their biggest decisions. Iran can be deterred, and we have to have the capability to operate against them."
  • "I doubt [the recent spate of Palestinian terror attacks] can be defined as a 'wave,' like in the past....The Palestinian public weren't part of this for a moment. There is weariness among them, as well as a lack of understanding of what, exactly, the issue is. The cry 'Al-Aqsa is in danger' doesn't resonate with the [Palestinian] population in Judea and Samaria. It's an eastern Jerusalem event, a bit Arab Israeli, but has nothing to do with Judea and Samaria."
  • Israel, he says, has an interest in day-to-day life in Judea and Samaria going on as usual, with people working and making a living. "The more you can separate the innocent population, who really want to work and to live, from terrorism, and to make sure there's a cost for it [the terror], the better."
  • Egypt has recently brought its relations with Israel more into the open. "The Egyptians saw the Gulf states sailing comfortably into the world openly with us, and not paying a price. They didn't want to be bypassed, and they understand the benefits of these relations. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi...understands he won't benefit if he keeps relations with us on the level of security, and concealed....Egypt today sees Israel as a positive element in the region. I don't think the current Egyptian leadership sees Israel as an enemy."

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